New garden prep and tilling

suburbangreen(8)June 18, 2011

Hi guys and gals,

I am going to cultivate a 30 X 100 foot area next year for my family and two or three other families and am looking for some tips. I have gardened in raised-beds in my backyard for the last five years, but with the new area, I'll be using the row method. I thought you guys would be the best people to ask since most of you probably garden or farm with rows. What row width would you recommend and how high would your raise each row? What about spacing between rows? I have noticed some people recommend 30 inches for row width with a couple feet between rows. Do you vary the width of the rows depending on what crops will be planted? How many rows would you put in a 30 foot wide area? I am going to use T-tape for irrigation so I guess one run of T-tape for each row bed? Also what type of T-tape(flow rate) would you recommend.

I plan on lightly tilling the area when the soil is at the right moisture, but how deep should I til, 1 foot? After tilling and when making the rows I'll add lots of compost and aged horse manure to the beds along with pelleted organic fertilizer, green sand, lava sand and maybe some blood meal for additional nitrogen. Then I'll mulch in between the rows using grass clippings, leaves, hay, etc. I hope to just lightly tickle in compost or horse manure each season and pull the mulch from between the rows and add new mulch. I also plan on experimenting with cover crops and using row covers to extend seasons.

The gentleman that is letting me use his land said that he would plow up the area with his tractor, but I'm afraid a big tractor might dig too deeply into the soil ruining the tilth. Maybe a tiller might be best?. By the way, my soil is alkaline, black gumbo Texas clay. I have gardened in this type of soil for a few years, but mainly with raised beds filled with purchased soil mixtures. Our native soil is rich, but also thick and poor draining.

One more thing, this Fall I may grow in half of this area, which would mean preparing the soil soon and planting the other half with a frost-kill cover crop. If the cover crop was killed and incorporated in December would the area be ready for planting in late March?

Thanks in advance,


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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I don't know anything about that kind of soil, but my guess would be that it would be easier and better to let the farmer disc it all. Then make wide rows -I do just over 3 feet wide and 2 feet to just under 3 feet wide paths. Add the amendments (compost and manure) just to the wide rows aka beds and fork in for now being you have clay. Do a soil test before adding other fertilizers. Use 2 lines of T tape per bed. Heavily mulch.

Another thing you can do is Steve Solomon's plumped up bed method; I call this heaped beds. Instead of making a big rectangle just make 3-4 feet wide and very long heaped beds of added compost and manure. Leave the area between them as grass and mow it. This might work fine for your soil. I would put 3 tapes in a 4 foot wide bed.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 3:29PM
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I would get it plowed and disced this year and as soon as possiple. I would till it ,then get a soil test off to see what you will need to admend it with and till that in when yoiu first see weeds and till often when you see weeds now. Thios way you get a jump on the weeds before next year. All the weed seeds you can bring up and get to germinate now the less you will have next years since this is a new garden.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 12:28AM
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